Posts Tagged ‘goy’

Nations – Hebrew: Goyim

“As for me, this is my covenant with you: you will be the father of many nations” (Genesis 17:4).


Goyim or goy in Hebrew means ‘name of a people or nations.’ Goy is used 561 times in the Hebrew Scriptures and refers to peoples and nations generally in a context of geographical or governmental identity.  They have a unique origin and language.  Only twice is goy used with the idea of pagan and seven times it is [mis]translated as ‘gentile’.

Though goyim or ‘gentile’ can mean ‘pagan,’ its specific meaning must be determined through context.  Abraham did not become the ‘father of many pagans’ nor should every gentile be considered pagan. Abraham became the ‘father’ of many geographical peoples with many different origins, languages, and governmental identities: the goyim [nations]. Though those living in the nations may have had a pagan belief system, many within those systems recognize Abraham as their ‘father of  faith.’ These are the goyim promised to ‘the father of many nations.’ 

“The children fought with each other inside her so much that she said, “If it’s going to be like this, why go on living?” So she went to inquire of Adonai, who answered her, “There are two nations [goyim]  in your womb. From birth they will be two rival peoples. One of these peoples will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger” (Genesis 25:22-23). 

The Hebrew word for two ‘nations’ is goyim.  Two goyim fight in Rebecca’s womb –– not two pagans or two gentiles.  Two nations.  From these two nations came the Edomites from Esau and the Israelites from Jacob. The two nations would war regarding over being the ‘seed’ promised to Abraham.

Obedience to God’s commands would lead to the goyim to recognize Isra’el as a wise and understanding goy with an Elohim who is nothing like the pagan gods within the goyim (Deuteronomy 4:32).

Jeremiah tells Isra’el not to learn the ‘ways of the nations’ (Jeremiah 10:2).   The ‘ways of the nations’ he refers to are definitely not God’s ways and could be considered pagan: holding to religious beliefs contrary to the ways of God. This does not make the nation itself pagan, but their customs and religious practices.

Hebrew Word Pictures

ג Gimel – A Camel means ‘lift up’ or ‘pride.’

י Vav – A Nail means ‘binding.’

י Yod – A Closed Hand means ‘finished work.’

י Yod – A Closed Hand means ‘finished work.’

מ Mem – Water means ‘chaos’ or ‘mighty.’

The Hebrew Word Picture for goyim: lift up the binding the finished work, the finished work of chaos.

“But now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles [ethnos] might come to the obedience that comes from faith” (Romans 16:26). 

Ethnos is used for ‘a nation or people’ in the Greek.

This verse is also evidence the fulfillment of the promise given to Abraham regarding all nations.  Note that the word ethnos is (mis)translated ‘gentiles’ rather than ‘nations.’ 

The word paganin both in the Hebrew and Greek is a completely different word than goy.

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